The Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing opens an exhibition dedicated to works by Alberto Giacometti
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The Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing opens an exhibition dedicated to works by Alberto Giacometti
Alberto Giacometti, [Buste d'homme assis (Lotar III)], vers 1965, Bronze Susse Fondeur, fonte de 1968 E.A. I/II 65,5 x 28,2 x 35,5 cm. Courtesy of the Fondation Louis Vuitton. © Sucession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris) © Adagp, Paris 2021.

BEIJING.- The Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing is presenting an exhibition dedicated to major artist Alberto Giacometti.

This presentation has been produced in the framework of the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s « Hors-les-murs » programm, showcasing holdings of the Collection at the Espaces Louis Vuitton in Tokyo, Munich, Venice, Beijing, Seoul and Osaka, thus carrying out the Fondation’s intent to mount international projects and make them accessible to a broader public.

Born in 1901 in Switzerland, Alberto Giacmetti moved to Paris (France) in 1922. He set his sights on the Montparnasse district, where he lived and worked until his death in 1966.

Despite the almost instant recognition of his work, and the friendship he forged with several personalities such as André Breton, Georges Bataille, André Masson and Michel Leiris, Giacometti quickly turned away from surreal objects that made him famous to refocus on the model. This solitary breakaway, in which he had « no other purpose than to try to set up a human head », let him away from subservience to any movement, preferring to concentrate on the sources of creativity. Supported by his knowledge of prehistoric, ancient Egptian, Sumerian and archaix Greek art, his work combined daily experience of the model with timeless forms of ancient models.

From 1935, he devoted himseld entirely to the living model which became the sole obsessive subject of his work. Meanwhile, het ok an interest in ratios of scale and the way figures occupy and activate the space around them. In the1950s, his bodies became increasingly thin, reduced to the essential lines of their precarious existence : « […] a man walking in the street weights nothing, is such lighter in any case than the same dead or unconscious man. He is balanced on his legs. His weight is not felt. This is subconscionciously what I wanted to reproduce… that lightness, by refining my silhouettes… » (Interview with Jean Clay, 1963).

Giacometti felt a sense of lingering failure over his inability to reproduce his models as he perceived them and achieved extreme simplification that paradoxically orchestrates a striking émergence of the figure. Beyond an emotional expression, the artist imposed an optical approach of his works, such as dots or lines in a dense space. As expressed by Jean Genet, « their (Giacometti’s sculptures' ») beauty seems to me to stand in an incessant, continuous toing and froing from the most extreme distance to the closest familiarity : that toing and froing is never-ending and is how we can say they are in movement ».

For this new exhibition, the Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing presents eight emblematic sculptures by Giacometti, that belong to the Collection : Tête sur tige [Head on a rod] (1947), Trois hommes qui marchent [Three men walking] (1948), Homme qui chavire [Man who capsizes] (1950), Femme de Venise III [Woman of Venice III] (1956), Grande Femme II [Tall Woman II] (1960) and Têtes d’homme [Heads of a man] (Lotar I), (Lotar II), (Lotar III) [1964-65). These works, considered as key masterpieces of Giacometti’s œuvre, pay tribute to the virtuosity of the iconic Swiss artist.

Born in Borgonovo (Switzerland) on October 10, 1901, Alberto Giacometti, at an early age, was introduced to Post-Impressionism and Symbolism by his father, a painter. In 1919, he left school to study at the Fine Arts College of Geneva. He moved to France in 1922 where he studied the nude at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, sculpture with Antoine Bourdelle and often visited the Louvre. His work brought him close to the post-Cubism movement (in particular, Le Couple [The Couple] (1926) and Femme Cuillière [Spoon Woman] (1927)], and then developed within the Surrealist group (the Boule suspendue [Suspended Ball] sculpture (1930), exhibited at Galerie Pierre alongside works by Joan Miro and Jean Arp, marked this turning point). In 1935, breaking away from avant-garde circles, he began to work exclusively on the living model.

During the World War II, in 1941 he returned to Switzerland where he met his future wife, Anette Arm, who became one of his favorite models. In the after-war period, he started to create new tall and spindly figures. In the 1950s, Giacometti’s reputation grew considerably. In 1956, he represented France at the Venice Biennale where he presented Femmes de Venise [Women of Venice] (he would later win the Biennale’s Grand Prix for Scuplture in 1962). Before leaving Paris for the last time in 1965, Giacometti made three portraits of photographer Eli Lotar, who became his final model. Giacometti died on January 11, 1966 at the Cantonal Hospital of Coire.

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